Gallery Exhibit: Douglas Coupland mixed-media at VAG, vol. 2 (collections)

VW bus and other items
VW bus model and other practical items and toys, somehow creating a tiny universe

Evidence from mixed-media master Douglas Coupland’s exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery – the assortment of items i captured from the wide-array of mediums he works with/in, are arranged into 7 volumes for convenience. This is volume 2, Collection (my title, not his).

Variety of cleaning products from Japan
whats a n exhibit without a collection of Japanese cleaning products – some purchased, some washed-up ashore (perhaps)

The survey exhibition of Douglas Coupland‘s diverse art at the Vancouver Art Gallery during Summer 2014’s was really kind of a big deal for me.

As someone who works in many medium – though primarily a writer (I think) – seeing his work from books to sculptures to silkscreened slogans to paintings and various other art on substrates to collections of seemingly random yet somehow interrelated artifacts was reassuring to me that one can be a polymath and excel in many disciplines, and do so with courageous experimentation and whimsy.

I especially enjoyed seeing his archival notebooks displayed as a “art piece” in their own right. Indeed, I am rather obsessive about my notebooks, journals, scrapbooks and have gathered and collected items – from ephemera to snippets of poetry to logistics – since I was a wee lad. I keep all of these dossiers inventoried in a storage locker in hopes one day they will be relevant or useful to someone else besides me. Actually, I don’t really care about the anyone else, I keep them for my own amusement and reference.

Another aspect I loved was seeing him “remixing” paintings by the noted Canadian Group at Seven. I’m especially intrigued by Frederick Varley, the “Bohemian“ of the Group and someone i’ve written about extensively (specifically his time in Vancouver). Seeing Mr. Coupland and Mr. Varley’s works side-by-side gave me an opportunity to ruminate about how we all build cartoons on the shoulders of someone else and have implied permission interpret themes and designs to fit our contemporary circumstances and present ideas in a new context.

What follows are snapshots from Coupland‘s explicit-stated photography encouraged exhibit called “Everywhere Is Anywhere Is Anything Is Everything”. The following volumes are loosely compiled from amongst assembled snapshots I happened to take. Keep in mind, there was plenty more goodness in this exhibit, this is just what I happened to capture. Artifacts are presented here for my own amusement and reference but you’re welcome to “look over my shoulder”.

PS A few “meta“ items are included to add a bit of “colour commentary” to the collection.

VW bus (blue) model
VW bus model, as a guy who loves (and has owned several) VW buses, i felt a kindred spirit in Mr. Coupland
Chinese cigarette packs
the hack-worthy omnipresent Asian cigarettes, where smoking is practically an Olympic sport in some countries
Small roadster model (grey)
slightly fuzzy view of a cute lil roadster, not unlike Doug’s own Figaro
Small fella with a big pipe
seems this gentlemen is ready for a pipe – or is he too logistically challenged?
various car, toys, bugle etc.
hack another VW (notchback) and a bugle (of course)
Champion spark plug aftershave and CN train
i bought my dad this Champion sparkplug aftershave for christmas one year, not sure he used it
Wax plastic sushi
is it real or wax/plastic sushi – looks so good! does it matter to your eyes?
Math machine
next time i need to math something, i’m hauling this beast out to help – or does it make phone calls? 
Charming tobacco pipe
oh that one looks lovely, that’s enough
Hornet or wasp nest (i really don't know)
relax, these are just wasp nests, or possibly hornets (i really don’t know)
Cowboy and "Indian"
figurines in anger, yet frozen in their fury
Chinese cigarette packs 2
even more cigs for collectors, if someone doesn’t collect and document the mundane, the future won’t have evidence
Missiles (models thereof)
Douglas was Cold War Youth, when rockets were the present
Debris from the sea
debris from the 2011 Japan jishin earthquake) and tsunami which caused these items (quite predictably) drift over to BC and wash up on the Sunshine Coast in this case
Various car, toys, items
artifacts of suburban life from various lands

Museum blurb:

“Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything” is the first major museum exhibition of the artist’s work and will be presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery from May 31 – September 1, 2014. Deftly capturing the spirit of the age—or, as the artist refers to it, “the 21st century condition”—Douglas Coupland’s ideas are often encountered on the written page. But the themes he explores in his writing have appeared in his artwork as early as the 1980s when he was a student at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design. In this survey of Coupland’s work, we encounter his incisive social analysis in a variety of forms including installation, painting, photography, prints, sculpture, quilts and wallpaper. His synthesis of contemporary events, popular culture, new technologies and art historical references―that range from the paintings of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven to the Pop sensibility of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein―resists an identifiable style. By incorporating everyday materials and objects and referencing images that have become culturally iconic, he probes the way that things, images and processes of contemporary life affect our understanding of the world around us.

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